Building Starbases

Criteria for an Early Starbase Planet

The minimum criteria for a starbase planet that you build before turn 25 is:

  • Has at least one abundant mineral (preferably two)
  • At least one abundant mineral has an extraction rate of 50% or more (75%+ is better)
  • There are sources within 162 ly (nearby) of either:
    1. Dur, Tri and Moly in abundant reserves; OR
    2. Bovinoid planet with at least 4-5 million native population where a Merlin can be parked

If your native planet above isn’t Human or Ghip, and another planet within 1-2 hops has native life AND is more suitable in minerals for the Starbase, locate the Starbase there instead.  In this case, you’ll need a third LDSF to bring clans to the Starbase planet as well.  In general, it’s cheaper to move around Megacredits instead of money, and many races have trouble with fuel costs.  Two native worlds together, including your “good” one, should produce at least 1500 MC / turn, which means that in three turns, you will have compensated for not building your Starbase with a native race technology bonus, but you’ll save yourself fuel costs on mineral freight for much longer than that.

The Starbase In A Can (LDSF)

The Starbase in a Can (SBIAC?) is a short way of saying “bring the minerals and at least minimum money required to build a Starbase, using a Large Deep Space Freighter”. This means that you must load the freighter with at least 900 MC, 190 Dur, 402 Tri, and 340 Moly (total minerals = 832).  The rest should be extra clans (to further buffer against Ground Assault takeovers), and as many Megacredits as you can spare to either build ships or increase tech levels at your new starbase.

Feeding the Starbase

You really need to plan your starbase supply.  What generally happens to new players is that they end up with insufficient minerals for what they want to build, insufficient megacredits, or feast-or-famine times for the starbase where it can’t build something useful every turn.

This means that you really should:

  • Plan what the Starbase will build at least 5 turns in advance
  • Plan when the Starbase will increase tech levels to avoid delaying production
  • Give the Starbase a little extra resources so that you can increase Defense levels over time

Races that need early 2nd starbases (before turn 10 or earlier):

  • Feds – terraformers, bio scanners, “empty” high-tech hulls (if minerals allow)
  • Lizards – Hiss ships
  • Privateers – low-tech MBRs without weapons still make good ROBbers.
  • Cyborg – Probes
  • Empire – Probes, Fighter production
  • Rebels – Falcons, Geminis
  • Colonies – Lady Royales, Geminis

Races that don’t need earlier starbases, or only situationally:

  • Birds – A good Ghip world could be used for Swift Heart scout production, otherwise a Merlin or simply just early-strike ship production is better.
  • Fascists:  A Humanoid world could be turned into a d19b Nefarious factory.  Other early resources should be poured into early-strike ships to take out an neighbor.
  • Crystals:  Should instead be focusing on an early Merlin for Moly, but a suitable Humanoid planet makes a good place for earlier Onyx terraformers.
  • Robots:  Early Merlin instead.  A good Ghipsoidal or Siliconoid world can be used for earlier Cat’s Paw production if needed, but you won’t usually be building a big ship every turn at your homeworld anyway, so Cat’s Paw, Q-Tanker and LDSF production can usually be fit into your production schedule anyway.

Starbase Missions

Some tips for using your starbase missions to foil opponent’s plans:

  • “Unload Freighters” will ensure that any freighter that reaches your starbase will unload, even if intercepted from cloak, before it is destroyed (due to Host Order).
  • Force Surrender will ensure that enemy ships that arrive at your Starbase with zero fuel won’t be around to receive fuel from a nearby cloaker, and do dastardly things to your ship and/or planet next turn.  In general, leave your SB on “Force Surrender” if you’re not doing anything else with the Missions.
  • Refuel will allow your newly-built ships to fight the turn that they are constructed… although they won’t have any Torps or Fighters, and you have no control over their friendly code or fight order (they will tend to fight last because of their high ID).
  • Load Torps is a good mission if you’re like me, and tend to forget and send your exploratory-warships off without torpedoes…

Defending with Starbases

A starbase itself only provides an additional 5 fighter bays, and isn’t any better than a naked planet unless you upgrade the starbase’s defenses.

In order of effectiveness:

  1. Starbase Fighters
  2. Planetary Defense Posts (+1 kt per point, plus other upgrades)
  3. Starbase Defense (+1 kt per point)

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t max out your Planetary Defense posts!  You still need those to defend against Ground Assaults, but their defensive effectiveness is quite limited.

When starbases lose fighters to attacking ships, the “starbase fighters” are destroyed first, then the “planetary fighters” that you get for free with your Defense Posts.  Thus, even a failed attack on your starbase by a Little Pest or similar could cost you over 1000 megacredits in fighters!  This loss is a good reason to have ships defending your important planets, and not just starbases…

Defending against carriers:

Starbases are actually better at defending against carriers than against Battleships, cost-for-cost, because the starbase’s mass isn’t terribly high, but they have a large number of fighter bays to create “the fighter wall”, where attacking and defending fighters intercept each other (a concept highlighted in the Master At Arms article).

Going from 319kt to 320 kt of planet mass is a huge increase in defensive power against carriers, due to fighter hits suddenly doing 1 damage instead of 2 damage to the planet.

A defending battleship + starbase can hold off pretty much any carrier in the game.

Defending against Ground Assaults

Starbases do not help at all against Ground Assaults.  However, other than the Imperial Assault mission, where you auto-lose the planet if an undamaged Super Star Destroyer manages to drop 10 clans, you can defend your planet from enemy clan drops (called Ground Assaults) by having more clans and having high planetary defense posts.

Planetary defense posts increase your ground defense ratio for each defense post.  The increase in ratio is approximately 1 for each 20 defense posts.  That is, if you and the attacker both have a ground attack/defense value of one (1), and he drops 100 clans against your 100 defending clans, and you have 20 defense posts, you will be left with 50 clans.  However, if your attacker is the Lizards, with their 30:1 ratio, and they drop 200 clans against your 1200 clans, and you have 60 defense posts, they will have 40 clans on their newly-conquered planet when the fighting is over!  If, however, you had increased the defense posts to the maximum (84 defense), you would have won the battle with 46 clans left over.  While you held off the attackers, your tax base will be severely reduced…

See the VGA Planets Calculator or the Infolist to play around with scenarios and formulae.

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